5 Unoffending Ways to address your Boss at the Office

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If you’re working in an office and there is a clear policy on how staff are meant to address each other, then you’re in the clear – as far as your team mates are concerned. But this doesn’t always hold true when dealing with some supervisors, bosses or any staff that is above your level or grade. Whether you like it or not Office Politics exists and sometimes needs to be understood in order to avoid pitfalls that could ultimately leave you in the bad books of your superiors.

I have been at the receiving end of criticism for calling some bosses by their first name while I have equally received criticism for not referring to bosses by their first name. In a place like Nigeria where culture tends to override bureaucracy I therefore felt it necessary to list ways you can refer to both direct and indirect bosses (by email or speech) without annoying them:

5 Unoffending Ways to Address Boss

I would be very careful with #4 because if your boss’s name is Brian O’Donnell then you might not be getting away with calling him or her B.O, likewise Freda Upton, Ben Johnson and Peter Pledge. I particularly like #5 which gives you the peace of mind that you are addressing your boss just the way he or she wants.

Don’t shoot the messenger (but is it ok to slap him?)

Two days ago one of the team members in my office received some bad news from his mother. She told him over the phone that his junior sister passed away in hospital after some complications. He was devastated. He left the office soon after to meet his family members and to start making burial arrangements.

My supervisor was out of the office at the time so when she came back she asked after the bereaved team member. I stupidly went close to her and said in a gentle voice that he received news that his sister was dead – that was when my supervisor sent my head swinging 45 degrees left with an unexpected hot slap. The following conversation ensued:

Me: “Why did you slap me?”

Boss: “Tell me it’s a lie”

Me: “It’s true…but you slapped me”

Boss: “Sorry, I don’t know…er…I wasn’t expecting that kind of news”

In my head: The next time I’m passing on shocking news to my boss I’ll do so from about 50 feet away or better yet I’ll send a text.

Anyway, the swelling has gone down now.

Take THAT, messenger!

 

~In loving memory of Chioma O. ~

R.I.P  

Table for two, please!

Yesterday I had lunch with an unexpected guest. Half an hour earlier I was slaving away for my boss as usual when I suddenly heard my stomach grumbling. I decided to call the office canteen on the internal phone line and place my order. I even insisted that the food should be warmed up and reserved for me. I was told that everything would be done as requested. Fifteen minutes later I went downstairs to the canteen to check if my food was ready. It was covered, warm and ready to be served so I went over to one of the vacant tables that wasn’t directly in front of the head-numbing air conditioner. I bumped into a junior colleague whom had just finished eating lunch and was on his way out. As he was still chewing what seemed to be a stubborn piece of goat meat, I asked him how his lunch was. He gave me a ‘thumbs up’, probably because he didn’t want to respond with his mouth full.

With that sign of approval I was really looking forward to my meal. Apparently he had the same thing I was about to have – Eba and Ewedu with stew (Pounded Cassava with a watery vegetable soup topped with a peppery tomato gravy). Most of my colleagues had already had their lunch earlier so I was sitting at a table all by myself…at first. I attacked the first wrap of Eba and had gulped down half of the Ewedu soup, which I must say was deeeeeeelicious. The best thing about Ewedu soup is that it is so plain and thin that you wouldn’t expect to see anything other than liquified green leaves with no extras. But as I poked my fork into the bowl of soup again I pulled out my guest whom I had been dining with all this while. It was a baby roach.

Well I say it was a ‘baby roach‘ but this 1-inch, 6 legged, lifeless insect was more like a teenager – any bigger and it would have been a ‘cockroach‘ complete with wings! I immediately lost my appetite. I dropped the roach and my side plate and called the canteen attendants. I would love to say that I took advantage of this classic ‘Waiter, Waiter, what is this roach doing in my soup?’ moment and then I got the response ‘Looks to me like the breaststroke, sir!’…but sadly, that wasn’t what happened. The canteen attendant was shocked. I left the food in disgust and went back upstairs to continue punching (rather aggressively) on my keyboard. Some minutes later the chief chef came up to me and the old lady began to beg for my forgiveness. If ‘forgiveness’ meant saying ‘apology accepted’ then that was alright. But if it meant that I was to continue patronizing her cuisine then she had another thing coming!If I wanted roach soup for lunch then I guess things would have worked out perfectly. She stood by my side for about 5 minutes begging but I just wanted to get on with my work without her encroaching my territory.

The fact that I have a phobia for cockroaches, also known as Katsaridaphobia (fearofstuff.com), doesn’t make matters any better. I can recall an article I wrote in 2009 on the same issue where I made this perfectly clear.  In the end, the chef wanted to give me a free drink as some kind of peace offering.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice lady but I didn’t like her approach. Was a can of malt really going to make a difference?  I think a bottle of Dettol would have been more appropriate, don’t you think?

How many cockroaches can you see?

Entry #5 – Jokes at the office

A colleague of mine got me in stitches yesterday when she narrated an incident that took place at her church. Her aunty had been nodding during the sermon…I beg your pardon…nodding off to sleep during the sermon, when the preacher decided to switch the topic. He asked the congregation that if they knew they had been involved in witchcraft, charms or an occult then they should ‘STAND UP’ for prayer. Unfortunately my colleague’s innocent aunty suddenly snapped out of her slumber, hoping she would not be caught out for not rising to her feet – Problem was…she was the ONLY ONE on her feet and she didn’t even know why she was standing up, nor did she understand why she got the most shocking looks from members of the congregation, especially her niece and kids with her!

Apparently she still regrets the events of that Sunday service – she feels compelled to keep explaining to people at her church that she is not a witch 😀